Lake Dillon Brew Fest attracts record-breaking crowds in 2014 |

Lake Dillon Brew Fest attracts record-breaking crowds in 2014

A beer vendor hands over a tasty brew sample to a festival goer at last year's Lake Dillon Brew Fest. This year's event, now in it's fourth year, sold more than 800 tickets, a 30 percent increase over 2013.
Jessica Smith / |

The Lake Dillon Brew Fest was at the center of yet another discussion in which local officials touted persistent branding efforts for driving increased economic activity in town.

On Tuesday, July 15, Travis Holton, owner of Pug Ryan’s Brewing Co. in Dillon, appeared before the Dillon Town Council to provide a report about this year’s event.

The Brew Fest, now in its fourth year, was created by Pug Ryan’s and the Dillon Business Association to attract visitors and boost local economic activity a week ahead of the traditional start of the summer tourism season.

This year’s event, on June 21, offered unlimited tastings from 29 Colorado breweries, for the price of a $30 ticket, and free live music by The Samples at the Dillon Amphitheater. Officials sold more than 800 tickets for the fest, Holton said, which was a 30 percent increase over last year.

“The brewing community has become another positive force in the word-of-mouth marketing of Dillon.”
Travis Holton
owner, Pug Ryan’s Brewing Co.

“This is a branding effort we’ve been working on for a long time and it’s beginning to pay off,” Holton said. “I heard from a lot of our vendors and a lot of my patrons that this year’s event felt like we had thrown a locals’ party.”

Holton attributed the success of this year’s event to a number of factors, including advertising in the Westword’s Summer Guide to attract more people from the Front Range. However, the comments about the brew fest feeling like a “locals’ party” can be credited to the intimacy of the event, which Holton said has always been the vision.

There are more than 70 brew fests in Colorado annually, he said, many of which attract hundreds of breweries from across the country. The Lake Dillon Brew Fest is capped at 30 breweries and slots are filled by invitation.

“Some have asked if we can expand the event,” Holton said. “Our comment at this point is that the venue is perfect. The feedback we receive from the brewers is consistently extremely positive. They all love our town and I feel the brewing community has become another positive force in the word-of-mouth marketing of Dillon.”

The Brew Fest benefits both the Dillon Business Association and the Colorado Brewer’s Guild. In addition to tickets, officials sell T-shirts and full-size tasting mugs.

This year, officials ordered 1,200 glasses for the event. All but about 50 glasses were sold, which contributed to net earnings of $18,000.

Event attendees also were treated to a refreshing and widely welcomed change in town policy. Prior to The Samples concert, Dillon police chief Mark Heminghous announced to a near-packed crowd that town parking restrictions would be waived for the evening to encourage less drinking and driving.

“You should have seen the response that announcement received from the crowd,” Holton said. “I thought it was a positive statement by the town and certainly a statement that was well received by the crowd.”

Prior to Holton’s report, the town council heard from Dillon Marina manager Bob Evans. Like the brew fest, the marina also is experiencing a banner year, he reported. Evans attributed the marina’s success to economic revitalization efforts at the lake.

If trends continue, sales tax revenues at the marina are projected to exceed figures recorded during the record-breaking summer of 2007.

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